Douglas Murdoch & Ben Armitage Discuss Celebratory, Authentic & Confident LGBTQ+ Drama, Peacock at Newport’s Riverfront Theatre

Thomas Howells puts questions to writer Douglas Murdoch and actor, Ben Armitage who star in Peacock at Newport’s Riverfront Theatre on February 10.

Here at Entssouthwales, we recently put questions to Greedy Pig Theatre’s cast and creatives of the new play, Peacock, playing at Newport’s Riverfront Theatre on February 10. “Peacock” is a story about a bisexual man who is exploring his relationship with makeup and masculinity. 

To begin, we asked writer, Douglas Murdoch about projects he’s currently working on, of which he stated: “Peacock is the only one that’s got my focus at the moment, but I’ve always got different projects on the go! I’m particularly getting interested in doing screen-based projects, so exploring that route, having done theatre for the last several years.”

Greedy Pig Theatre presents Peacock at The Riverfront Theatre, Newport on February 10.

We were also curious about the inspiration behind Peacock.

Peacock comes from a very real place for me,” continues Douglas, “Over lockdown, I started experimenting with makeup and got to a place where I felt quite comfortable with it. However, then when lockdown ended and I was faced with stepping out the house wearing makeup, I was suddenly confronted by this uncomfortable and complex vortex of feelings. Peacock is a response to that – it celebrates the joys and the anxieties of stepping outside your comfort zone.”

Douglas is also evidently extremely  excited about the upcoming performance as he addresses, “Newport will actually be our first debut performance! So, I haven’t seen it in full yet, but there have been so many joyous moments of the script springing to life in the rehearsal room, and the actors are always able to bring a magic to the words in a way that I’d never even comprehended.”

Greedy Pig Theatre presents Peacock at The Riverfront Theatre, Newport on February 10.

Moreover, Douglas introduces us to the struggles and development process of the play as he explains: “One of the challenges we knew we’d face with Peacock is making it feel authentic, because we present a selection of characters with identities that don’t necessarily align with my own. But to combat this, our first stage of development actually involved bringing a bunch of actors into the room and building the show with them, incorporating their experiences and ideas.”

Ben Armitage, who plays the role of Seamus agrees with this idea saying :”What I love about this play is we’ve all had a small hand in its creation in that parts of it are enriched by aspects of our personal lives.”

In more detail on his influence in the production Douglas says, “Peacock is being produced by Greedy Pig Theatre Company, and I’m one of the people that runs the company, so naturally I get a reasonable amount of say in how the play looks, who the team are etc.

“But that being said, I think it’s really important as a writer to trust my director and my actors, so I try to keep quiet in the rehearsal room, unless I think there’s something really important (or if I’m asked). Luckily, Peacock is directed by Lex Kaby (another one of the Greedy Pigs) and I trust her directing and know that it always creates something beautiful, plus we’ve been working with an absolutely fantastic cast – so it’s in very safe hands!”

Greedy Pig Theatre presents Peacock at The Riverfront Theatre, Newport on February 10.

One of my favourite parts of this interview is how as a writer, Douglas explains the biographical elements of Peacock and through it how it’s relevant to more than just LGBTQ+ people. He stated, “The journey that the character of Seamus goes on definitely has parallels with my own. He’s exploring wearing makeup as a man, and unravelling the complex relationship doing that has with his own masculinity. He’s different to me – for him it intertwines with his sexuality in a different way – but the anxieties at play, the potential joy – it’s definitely a story that comes from a personal place.”

Furthermore, Douglas goes into detail when explaining the message of the play: “It’s definitely one of celebration – about being your authentic self and having confidence in that. There’s also a sense of being brave, and accepting that bravery doesn’t have to be big – the smallest acts of personal bravery are just as valid as the biggest ones.”

Hearing all of this makes me incredibly excited to see the performance on the February 10. If you’re interested too – you can get tickets from The Riverfront website.

Greedy Pig Theatre presents Peacock at The Riverfront Theatre, Newport on February 10.

We aren’t over yet, as actor, Ben Armitage, reveals the favourite thing about his character Seamus is how Shay never gives up on trying to understand himself. 

In the story, Shay explores the challenges he faces and how to deal with them, particularly when he meets Tyrell played by Kofi Dennis. The play demands the pair “creating a totally natural physical language as the two characters begin a relationship through the play,” of which Ben explains: “It was really important for us to capture that spark particularly at the ‘Honeymoon’ stage. We are lucky enough to have a fantastic intimacy director to help us navigate the different stages of the Shay & Ty’s relationship.”

Ben also reveals what immersed him into the role: “Music. The soundtrack is so essential to the tone of this piece.” along with how the character is similar to him, “Seamus can’t dance, like me. No, I’m joking – I’m actually semi-decent. Shay is fascinated with art and creativity, as am I.”

I hope if you’re reading you’re looking forward to this play as much as me! Do not miss out on this opportunity and go to The Riverfront’s website to get your tickets to the performance of this beautiful piece on February 10.

Published by Thomas Howells

The doctor said I should be in hospital for all the blood I was losing, but instead I went to drama practice

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